Mormon vs Mormon
While Mitt Romney seems to be leading the Republican pack, Jon Huntsman has thrown his hat into the ring. Huntsman was a rather successful governor and was appointed by Obama as the ambassador to China. He, like Romney, is also a Mormon.
The Mormon faith is still looked at as being a bit odd, at least by mainstream Americans. This has raised some questions in certain circles as to whether or not a Mormon could be elected president. Since the same sort of thing was asked about Roman Catholics not too long ago (and answered by the election of Kennedy), I suspect that this will not be a major factor. As such, I think that both Romney and Huntsman will not find their chances diminished by their religion (at least not significantly).
Huntsman’s major worry at this point is not how people see his faith. Rather, it is his perceived dalliance with Real America’s greatest enemy: the Democrats. As noted above, Huntsman was appointed by Obama to be the ambassador to China. He can probably avoid the damage from this by contending that he was not serving the Democrats but was serving America. Of course, he will still have that Obama taint upon him. His family also gave money to help Harry Reid get elected and he also appointed Reid’s son to the Uta Board of Regents, which has raised some concerns among the Republican loyalists. He is, of course, trying to put as much distance between himself and Reid as possible and this nicely illustrates how cross-party interaction is viewed these days. However, Huntsman’s conservative credentials can probably be beefed up enough to make him more appealing to the base, while making him less appealing to the middle.
Romney also has the Democratic taint upon him. His stint as governor of Massachusetts left him with some liberal seeming marks on his record, such as Romneycare. As such, he will need to work hard to disavow his own successes as governor in order to appeal to the more conservative elements of the party. As with the other candidates, the more he steers right to appease certain base elements, the more he will move away from the moderate voters.
As such, both Mormon candidates need to worry more about the liberal/Democrat taint on them than they need to worry about how their faith might be perceived. Of course, the Mormon factor might be more significant than I believe-perhaps America is not ready for a Mormon president.